Instead of thousands of technical words, Jesus provokes and stirs emotion with simple stories that echo the lives of his listeners. These are ways for us to picture God’s Kingdom. The father figure, the shepherd, the servant, the children, poverty and wealth, success and failure… look at the pictures!
Who hadn’t noticed that a tiny seed turns into a tree that in turn multiplies its seed? Who hadn’t felt the family tension in the story of the prodigal son? Who hadn’t been frustrated recently by losing something valuable and tearing up the house to find it?
What is the Kingdom of God? Technically speaking it can be summarized this way:
The kingdom of God comes into being wherever the kingly authority of God is acknowledged. Although God is always sovereign, Scripture looks to a future “realm” or “reign” of salvation. This has come in Christ and yet will come in its fullness only when Jesus Christ returns.[i]
What does it mean for us to acknowledge Jesus as our King? We live in a democracy where political leaders get very little respect. What do we know about having a king? We need stories to tell us what a king is like.
The King is coming back and will establish His rule of peace. What does world peace or even individual peace look like? We need stories that help us to understand what we have not experienced.
So many stories… and the mysteries of God’s heart are revealed to those who listen and reflect upon the stories.
The term gospel, or good news, itself, means just a proclamation of the information, of what happened - The Great Story. And that's what the gospels are, a narrative tradition, the story of Jesus.[ii]
Jesus told many stories that draw us into seeing the greatest story of all. God’s story includes many chapters and scenes. In fact, you are in the Story.
Every story has a tension and a struggle that must be overcome. In the Great story, God’s prized Creation is being ruined. God must act to save and restore the world He loves. The Enemy of God almost succeeded in ruining everything, but God had a plan that involved paying a terrible price—the sacrifice of His Son. Once that was completed, the Kingdom story passes hands and we became intimately involved in seeing it unfold.
At the end of this Book, there will a Great and lasting victory. At the end of this Book, the next book will be written. Your life story can literally become what we read about in the future Kingdom.
Your testimony (story) may have been tragic, but your story can change to one more person who overcame God’s Enemy by standing behind the Shield of Lamb’s Blood. Your story is not finished. There are many more pages to be written. I can see you and I standing there on that Day reading the rest of the story.
We fell in love with the high King of Heaven and were willing to live as part of His Story. Our own trivial pursuits were not worth dying for, but we went to the ends of the earth for this King! Let’s write that story together. There are many listeners in the world who need to discover their way into the Great Story.
Michael White said:
Story telling was at the center of the beginnings of the Jesus movement. And I think we're right to call it the Jesus movement here because if we think of it as Christianity, that is, from the perspective of the kind of movement and institutional religion that it would become a few hundred years later, we will miss the flavor of those earliest years of the kind of crude and rough beginnings, the small enclaves trying to keep the memory alive, and more than that, trying to understand what this Jesus meant for them. That's really the function of the story telling...it's a way for them to articulate their understanding of Jesus. And in the process of story telling, when we recognize it as a living part of the development of the tradition, we're watching them define Jesus for themselves.[iii]
How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? We need to see our lives as the drawings in God’s Book. Every one of us is a picture that illustrates the author’s story and gives expression to it.
Every picture tells a story.
[i] Dictionary Of Bible Themes, 2376 kingdom of God, coming of
[ii] L. Michael White, Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/oral.html
[iii] L. Michael White, Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/oral.html